2016 GMC Canyon

Starting MSRP: $20,995 - $42,235

Estimated MPG: 19 city / 26 hwy

2016 GMC Canyon Review

Offering much of the utility of its full-size counterparts with a smaller and more fuel-efficient footprint, the 2016 GMC Canyon provides plenty of passenger and cargo space for individuals and families. Available with your choice of three powerful and economy-minded engines, the Canyon bridges the gap between the often too-small pickups of the past and the giants that dominate the present.

By Chris Brewer
Last Updated 06/06/2016

The 2016 GMC Canyon is a midsize truck that represents the smallest of what GMC calls its “professional grade” pickups. Available with rear- or four-wheel drive, the Canyon can be powered by a base four-cylinder engine, an optional V6 or a turbodiesel four-cylinder engine. A six-speed manual transmission is standard with the rear-wheel drive base models, all other trim levels use a six-speed automatic.

The 2016 GMC Canyon is available with two bed lengths, and in four-passenger extended cab and five-passenger crew cab configurations. The 2016 Canyon is available in four trim levels: SL, Canyon, SLE and SLT.

Exterior

Exterior
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The 2016 GMC Canyon features an upscale design that includes projector-beam headlamps and GMC’s signature lighting. The athletic styling features an attractive grille and aggressive fender flares front and back. Contrary to the perception of small pickups of yesteryear, the Canyon gives the appearance of a hard-working truck with excellent off-road capability and a spacious 5-foot-2-inch or 6-foot-2-inch bed.

The Canyon SLE includes an attractive chrome grille and beltline molding. The body-colored door handles and mirror caps are complemented by 17-inch alloy wheels. The Canyon also features the largest cargo box by volume in a midsize pickup. The integrated “CornerStep” rear bumper looks great and adds to the truck’s functionality when it’s time to enter or exit the main cargo area.

The extended cab’s 6-foot-2-inch cab offers 49.9 cubic feet of cargo volume. The 5-foot-2-inch short bed on the crew cab provides 41.3 cubic feet of volume. Both beds have a 55.5-inch wide tailgate and 44.4 inches of width in the cargo bed between the wheel housings.

Higher trim levels feature blacked-out trim and purpose-built off-road features that look great and enhance the Canyon’s functionality.

Interior

Interior
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GMC focused on creating a purpose-built cabin that provides a serene environment even in the base trim levels. The high level of fit and finish are evident, and the attention to detail and choice of materials give the pickup a premium feel. Soft-touch surfaces are abundant and the stain-resistant cloth seats are utilitarian, but look great, too. According to GMC, the seats are made from “dual-density” foam that holds its shape longer, promising many years of comfort and durability. Personally I found that dialing in the perfect seat position was easy, and the controls were within arm’s reach and easy to use.

The two rear seats in extended cab models are adequate for short trips, but hardly qualify the pickup as a family vehicle. Families or individuals who regularly have rear-seat occupants will want to invest in the crew cab model like the one that I reviewed. Thanks to GMC’s inclusion of technology features like 4G LTE wireless internet and ample USB ports, the rear seats were considered a big hit by my teenagers. With sufficient legroom and comfortable seating for three, even on longer treks, the Canyon crew cab does make a great family vehicle.

While having a pickup bed instead of a trunk or covered cargo area will limit the Canyon’s utility in some ways, GMC has done a nice job incorporating some smaller storage areas inside the cabin. Owners looking for more versatility will want to invest in the optional bed cover.

Performance

Performance
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The 2016 GMC Canyon is offered with two gasoline engines and a new-for-2016 turbodiesel. The base power plant is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that produces 200 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque. Models with this engine are rated at up to 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. When properly equipped, towing capacity is 3,500 pounds.

The Canyon’s optional 3.6-liter V6 produces a healthy 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. When powered by the V6, the Canyon is rated at up to 18 mpg city and 26 mpg highway and can tow up to 7,000 pounds.

All-new for 2016, is a powerful and fuel-efficient Duramax turbodiesel 2.8-liter four-cylinder engine. Horsepower is rated at 181 and the torque is an outrageous 369 pound-feet, allowing up to 7,700 pounds of towing capacity. With the turbodiesel engine, the GMC Canyon earns up to an EPA-estimated 22/31 mpg city/highway.

The Canyon is easy to drive and comfortable on the road. Unlike many full-size pickup trucks, the Canyon is small enough to fit into many normal parking spaces, and even parallel parking is relatively easy once you are familiar with the truck’s dimensions. Highway cruising is comfortable and the V6 and diesel variants make quick work of passing. Thanks again to its smaller footprint, the Canyon is easier to navigate in city traffic than the full-size GMC Sierra 1500.

The V6-powered Canyon that I reviewed offered excellent acceleration and plenty of towing capacity. Highway passing was a breeze, and there were many occasions that I completely forgot I was driving a pickup truck instead of a midsize sedan. That’s a true testimony to GMC’s engineering, especially considering that the Canyon is a body-on-frame truck.

Technology

Technology
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The 2016 GMC Canyon with the extended cab is offered as a no-frills SL model that is designed to be a price leader. However, the base SL still boasts some excellent technology. The standard audio system includes a 4.2-inch display, USB connectivity and six speakers. A rearview camera with dynamic guidelines is also included in all base models.

Moving into the SLE trim enhances the GMC’s tech-based amenities. The SLE features an 8-inch color touch-screen audio system with USB and Bluetooth connectivity. The system is easy to use, extremely powerful and features the latest technologies, including Apple CarPlay, satellite radio, HD Radio and additional USB ports. Additionally, GMC’s OnStar system and a built-in Wi-Fi hot spot are included.

The SLE model also features keyless entry and an available remote start system that is standard in the top-trim Canyon SLT.

Safety

Safety
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The 2016 GMC Canyon is equipped with a rearview camera, antilock brakes, stability control and a suite of air bags.

The GMC Canyon can also be equipped with safety and driver alert technologies, including forward collision alert and lane departure warning. GMC’s OnStar telematics service provides additional security with automatic crash response, turn-by-turn navigation, roadside assistance, a link to emergency services and a remote door-unlock system.

The 2016 GMC Canyon earned four out of five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for its performance in crash tests. The Canyon scored five stars in the side impact category, but only four stars in front crash tests and three stars in rollover tests.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
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The base GMC Canyon SL starts at $20,955 and includes a six-speed manual transmission and some standard features not found on the typical entry-level pickup truck, including power windows and door locks, a rearview camera and USB connectivity.

The top-trim Canyon SLT with four-wheel drive and the turbodiesel engine starts at $42,075. The top-trim model is about as close to a luxury midsize pickup as you can get, with leather-appointed seating, 18-inch polished aluminum wheels, an 8-inch touch-screen audio system, 4G LTE wireless internet and much more.

Thanks to the four distinct trim levels, the Canyon can be configured for just about any budget. Of course shoppers interested in the Canyon will also want to investigate the related Chevrolet Colorado, which offers identical powertrains and cab configurations.

Overall

Overall
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The 2016 GMC Canyon provides an excellent alternative to the full-size trucks that dominate the market. It affords owners with a strong percentage of the utility and convenience that larger trucks offer, and adds better fuel economy and more enjoyable driving dynamics to the mix. The Canyon is an attractive pickup that drives as great as it looks, regardless of whether you opt for the base extended cab model or a loaded-up Canyon SLT.

When you add in the advanced technology and comfort features, the crew cab model also makes a great family cruiser that is at home running daily chores or towing a boat for a day of water skiing and recreation.